TALES FROM EARTHSEA (Aukland International Film Festival, Aukland in the North Island of New Zealand 2007)

Ben Meyers’ rating: 4.8|5.0 Stars ìììì

Tales From Earthsea—
another terrific offering by Japan’s Studio Ghiblishowcases the talents of Hayao Mirazaki’s son, Director Gorô Miyazaki. While this animated feature is Gorô Miyazaki’s directorial debut, he does not let us down in any part of the film.  The story resolves questions of bad conscience and changing course of action through good deeds. A magical tale, the story keeps interest from the beginning to its end.

Film Poster Courtesy of Wikipedia

Storyline

Arren (voice of Matt Levin) kills his Father the King of Enlad and steals his father’s magical sword. Later a wizard wards predator wolves away from Arren. In gratitude, the boy, Arren, begs to follow the wizard and asks his name. The wizard says he is Sparrowhawk (voice of Timothy Dalton) and, for awhile they travel together. Arren saves a girl named Therru (voice of Blaire Restaneo) from slave traders and then gets caught himself by the traders. Sparrowhawk once again saves the day and takes Arren to Tenar’s (voice of Mariska Hargitay) house to recoup.

Additional Thanks

Thank you to Producers Steve Alpert, Toshio Suzuki, and Javier Ponton for making the film possible. Thank you to Music Composer Tamiya Terashima for the score. Additional characters/cast include: Cob (voice of Willem Dafoe), Ged (voice of Timothy Dalton), and Hare (voice of Cheech Marin).


Buy a ticket? Yes? No? Maybe?

Yes. Unusually entertaining tale that serves entertainment needs well.

Video Critique Available Here:



Ben Meyers

AIR BUD (Theatrical Release USA 1997)

Ben Meyers’ rating: 4.8|5.0 Stars ìììì

Air Bud—
a clean-cut, Disney feature for the whole familyshowcases the talents of a real-life dog who can shoot hoops. It fits the bill for a good child/adult share film.

Film Poster courtesy of Wikipedia 

Storyline

Old Blue, a dog owned by an abusive clown named Norm Snively (Michael Jeter), gets a new home and finds a better place in the world.

Additional Thanks

It’s a Best Work effort for Director Charles Martin Smith. Thank you to Executive Producers Michael Strange, Anne Vince, Bob Weinstein, and Harvey Weinstein for making the film possible. The characters/cast include: Josh Framm (Kevin Zegers), Andrea Framm ( Jessebel or Kati Mather), Jackie Framm (Wendy Makkena), Arthur Chaney (Bill Cobbs), Judge Cranfield (Eric Christmas), Referee 1 (Jay Brazeau), Principal Pepper (Nicola Cavendish), Larry Willingham (Brendan Fletcher), Buck Willingham (Norman Browning), Coach Barker (Stephen E. Miller), and Tom (Shayn Solberg).



Buy a ticket? Yes? No? Maybe?

Yes. It deserves a place in the family home entertainment library.

Video Critique Available Here:



Ben Meyers

ROBOCOP (Theatrical Release USA 2014)

Ben Meyers’ rating: 3.4|5.0 Stars ììì

Robocop
, a remake of the original 1987 Robocop film, almost makes ‘cool’ status. The remake is better than the original, but still has its ‘laugh-out-loud, slap-yourself-in-the-forehead while asking yourself—why?’ scenes. This film examines the year 2028 when an issue arises in the United States about using non-emotional, robotic law enforcement. The issue is resolved with the singular idea that injured Detroit police officer Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) can be re-made into a robot while retaining emotional capability. Inventor Raymond Sellers (Michael Keaton) and Dr. Dennett Norton (Gary Oldman) reconstruct Alex Murphy and get more than they bargained for in the process.

Film Poster Courtesy of Wikipedia


Storyline

A major corporation makes a part robot/part man from a critically injured person.

Additional Thanks

Good Work For Director José Padilha. Thank you to Executive Producers Roger Birnbaum and Bill Carraro for making the film possible. Additional character/cast include: Antoine Vallon (Patrick Garrow), Clara Murphy (Abbie Cornish), Rick Mattox (Jackie Earle Haley), Jack Lewis (Michael Kenneth Williams), and Liz Kline (Jennifer Ehle).


Buy a ticket? Yes? No? Maybe?

Yes. The interesting concept fails to completely engage its audience.

Video Critique Available Here:


Ben Meyers

THE LEGO MOVIE (Theatrical Release USA 2014)

Ben Meyers’ rating: 4.8|5.0 Stars ìììì

The Lego Movie,
 surprising fun, performs as a good choice for family entertainment. It combines animation with some live action to address the issues of showing respect to others and working as a team to accomplish great tasks. It emphasizes the great rewards that can be obtained by never underestimating the abilities of the individual.

Film Poster Courtesy of Wikipedia

Storyline

An ordinary man finds himself in a position to do extraordinary things.

Additional Thanks

This is a Best Work effort for Director Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. Thank you to Executive Producers Matt Skiena, Allison Abbate, Michael E. Uslan, Jill Wilfert, Seanne Winslow, James Packer, Matthew Ashton, Bruce Berman, Jon Burton, Steve Mouchin, Kathleen Fleming, Benjamin Melniker, and Zareh Nalbandian for making the film possible. Character/cast include: Batman/Bruce Wayne (voice of Will Arnett), Wyldstyle/Lucy (voice of Elizabeth Banks), Blake/Additional Voices (voice of Craig Berry), Unikitty (voice of Alison Brie), Octan Robot/Additional Voices (voice of David Burrows), C-3PO (voice of Anthony Daniels), Benny (voice of Charlie Day), Mom (Amanda Farinos), Han Solo (voice of Keith Ferguson), and President Business Man/The Man Upstairs (voice of and acted by Will Ferrell).


Buy a ticket? Yes? No? Maybe?

Yes. This terrific entertainment piece performs effectively for the whole family.

Video Critique Available Here:



Ben Meyers

HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN (Theatrical Release USA 2004)

Ben Meyers’ rating: 4.5|5.0 Stars ìììì

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban—
the third installment of Harry Potterseems more  mature and difficult to follow. The moral that good prevails over evil remains. The film introduces new personalities, dementors, to create interest.

Film Poster Courtesy of Wikipedia

Storyline

Harry learns Sirius Black has escaped prison. Dementors guard Hogwarts until the recapture of Sirius Black.


Additional Thanks

Great work for Director Alfonso Cuarón. Thank you to Executive Producers Michael Barnathan, Callum McDougall, and Tanya Seghatchian for making the film possible. Cast/characters include: Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), Vernon Dursley (Richard Griffiths), Aunt Marge (Pam Ferris), Aunt Petunia (Fiona Shaw), Dudley Dursley (Harry Melling), Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint), and Hermoine Granger (Emma Watson).

Buy a ticket? Yes? No? Maybe?

Yes. This movie runs on a more complicated and mature storyline than the last two films. 

Video Critique Available Here:



Ben Meyers

JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT (Theatrical Release USA 2014)

Ben Meyers’ rating: 3.4|5.0 Stars ììì

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit 
bases itself on author Tom Clancy’s book character, Jack Ryan. Unfortunately, the movie fails to enthrall. Part of this dilemma may be the casting and a rather weak portrayal of a romantic relationship between two of the film's characters. The strongest character in the movie, who also directs the movie, Kenneth Branagh, (playing the Russian, Victor Cherevin) comes onto the story scene a little late to save the film from mediocrity.

Film Poster Courtesy of Wikipedia

Storyline

A United States Marine CIA recruit works in Wall Street to discover suspect financial transactions and uncovers a Russian plot to bring the United States economy down through staged financial maneuvering.

Additional Thanks

Thank you to Executive Producers David Ellison, Dana Goldberg, Tommy Harper, and Paul Schwake for making the film possible. Additional characters/cast include: Jack Ryan (Chris Pine), Cathy Muller (Keira Knightley), Thomas Harper (Kevin Costner), Constantin (Lenn Kudrjawizki), Alexandr Borovsky (Alec Utgoff), and Dimitri Lemkov (Peter Andersson).


Buy a ticket? Yes? No? Maybe?

Yes. Chris Pine interprets the Jack Ryan personality freshly and innovatively, but misses the mark to capture and keep interest for the movie audience. 

Video Critique Available Here:



Ben Meyers

THE INCREDIBLE BURT WONDERSTONE (South by Southwest Film Festival Austin Texas USA 2013)

Ben Meyers’ rating: 4.6|5.0 Stars ìììì

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone—
a classic, laugh-out-loud, riot of a moviecombines Jim Carrey craziness with Steve Carell’s laid-back comedic style and Steve Buscemi’s unique magic into one whole that absolutely works on every possible entertainment level. It’s all about friendship, becoming more than anyone could ever predict, and rebuilding careers when everything possible, goes wrong. The film begins atthe beginningwith a very young Burt Wonderstone. 

Film Poster Courtesy of Wikipedia

Storyline

A young Burt Wonderstone (Mason Cook) comes home from school and finds his single, working Mother has left him a note saying that she is sorry that she cannot make it to his birthday party because she has to ‘work over,’ but she did get him a cake mix and to feel free to make himself a birthday cake. Her single gift is a Rance Holloway (Alan Arkin) Magician Kit and with that single gift Burt Wonderstone’s career is launched.

Additional Thanks

Best Work for Director Don Scardino. Thank you to Executive Producers Richard Brener, Sam Brown, Vance DeGeneres, Walter Hamada, Charlie Hartsock, Dave Neustadter, Diana Pokorny, and J.C. Spink for making the film possible. Additional character/cast include: Young Anton Marvelton (Luke Vanek), Burt Wonderstone (Steve Carell), Anton Marvelton (Steve Buscemi), Jane (Olivia Wilde), Steve Gray (Jim Carrey), Doug Munny (James Gandolfini), Rick the Implausible (Jay Mohr), and Lucius Belvedere (Michael Herbig).



Buy a ticket? Yes? No? Maybe?

Yes. This 'easy-to-be-missed' film turns into a classic from its get-go. Do not miss it.

Video Critique Available Here:



Ben Meyers

ERNEST & CELESTINE (San Francisco International Film Festival, San Francisco, California USA 2013)

Ben Meyers’ rating: 4.4|5.0 Stars ìììì

Ernest & Celestine
easily becomes one of the cutest, sweetest, and most innocent animated films of 2014. It’s a staple story that relies on an unlikely friendship that develops between a mouse and a bear and then blossoms into a permanent and lasting lifelong love. A refreshing combatant to ideas that such friendships are unsustainable, the storyline is well voiced by Forest Whitaker as Ernest, the bear, and Mackenzie Foy as Celestine, the mouse. The story’s kindly morality makes it a perfect fit for the adult and child seeking ‘together’ entertainment with pleasant surprises and a comfortable below-the-limit action plan that is ‘not too hot and not too cold.’ 
 
Film Poster Courtesy of Wikipedia

Storyline

A mouse, Celestine, independently decides, against popular assumptions, to believe that bears, even hungry bears, do not necessarily eat mice. She verifies her unproven theory after meeting Ernest, a poor, hungry, panhandling bear. Resourceful Celestine develops a plan for Ernest to get food; but, the police catch Ernest and the show begins.

Additional Thanks

Great work for Directors Stéphane Aubier, Vincent Patar, and Benjamin Renner. Thank you to Producers Eric Beckman, David Jesteadt, and Michael Sinterniklaas for making the film possible. Thank you to Music Composer Vincent Courtois. Thank you to Daniel Pennac for an outstandingly good screenplay and to Gabrielle Vincent for her excellent children’s book series. Additional cast/characters include: The Grey One (voice of Lauren Bacall), Le Grise (voice of Anne-Marie Loop), Rat Judge (voice of Paul Giamatti), Head Dentist (William H. Macy), Lucienne (voice of Megan Mullally), and George (voice of Nick Offerman).

Buy a ticket? Yes? No? Maybe?

Yes. The simple animation catches the eye. The story makes a sweet child/adult share.

Video Critique Available Here:



Ben Meyers

HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS (Theatrical Release USA 2002)

Ben Meyers’ rating: 4.6|5.0 Stars ìììì

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets—
another J. K. Rowling classic novel-based filmpits Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint), and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson)  against new Hogwarts' supernatural entities. This sequel beautifully unfolds to reveal the next stage of the heroes' and heroine's adventures.  

Film Poster courtesy of Wikipedia

Storyline

Harry Potter and his friends discover new supernatural terrors,

Additional Thanks

Best work for Director Chris Columbus. Thank you to Executive Producers Michael Barnathan, David Barron, Chris Columbus, and Mark Radcliffe for making the film possible. Terrific work by music composer John Williams. Additional character/cast include: Mr. Mason (Jim Norton), Mrs. Mason (Veronica Clifford), Fred Weasley (James Phelps), George Weasley (Oliver Phelps), Mrs. Weasley (Julie Walters), Ginny Weasley (Bonnie Wright), Arthur Weasley (Mark Williams), Percy Weasley (Chris Rankin), and Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton).


Buy a ticket? Yes? No? Maybe?

Yes. It sustains the entertainment value of the first film by introducing intriguing, new characters (such as House Elf Dobby (Toby Jones) and Tom Riddle (Christian Coulson)) and by deepening the camaraderie  between Potter, Weasley, and Granger. 

Video Critique Available Here:




Ben Meyers

EXODUS (Theatrical Release, Los Angeles, California USA 1960)

Ben Meyers’ rating: 4.6|5.0 Stars ìììì

Exodus—
authentic, must see classicuses the formidable skills of screen writer, Dalton Trumbo, to tell this masterfully layered story that successfully deals with opposite points of view and methodology necessary for land resettlement as well as the unavoidable sacrifices made to accomplish that task. It is not an ‘easy’ story, but a necessary story that examines the perils of exodus politically, socially, personally, and relationally.

Film Poster Courtesy of Wikipedia

Storyline

Six hundred and eleven Jewish Holocaust survivors make a break for Mandate Palestine and resettlement into an area torn by conflict and strife.

Additional Thanks

Best work for Director and Producer Otto Preminger. Terrific work by Music Composer Ernest Gold. Character/cast include: Ari Ben Caanan (Paul Newman), Kitty Fremont (Eva Marie Saint), General Sutherland (Ralph Richardson), Major Caldwell (Peter Lawford), Barak Ben Canaan (Lee J. Cobb), Dov Landau (Sal Mineo), Taha (John Derek), and Mandria (Hugh Griffith).



Buy a ticket? Yes? No? Maybe?

Yes. A 'must see' for anyone who wants a movie that works beyond the ticket counter and earns a permanent place in the home video library.


Video Critique Available Here:



Ben Meyers

TRANSCENDENCE (Theatrical Release USA 2014)

Ben Meyers’ rating: 4.7|5.0 Starsìììì

Transcendence—
highly sophisticated, mind twisting, intelligently written, no-fault-found scriptexamines the possibility of achieving utopia via fusion of human and artificial intelligence. A refreshing story that examines a true soul mate love affair between two scientists and the outcome of that profound relationship. 

Film Poster Courtesy of Wikipedia

Storyline

Scientist Will Caster (Johnny Depp) and his wife, Scientist Evelyn Caster (Rebecca Hall), develop a computer that thinks and responds due to an interface that relies on the biological transfer of a monkey’s mind into its core processors. When Will suffers a debilitating health issue that gives him a month to live, a desperate Evelyn suggests that Will’s mind replace the monkey’s mind. 

Additional Thanks

Best work for Director Wally Pfister. Thank you to Executive Producers Dan Mintz, Emma Thompson, and Christopher Nolan for making the film possible. Additional characters/cast include: Agent Buchanan (Cillian Murphy), Bree (Kate Mara), Colonel Stevens (Cole Hauser), Joseph Tagger (Morgan Freeman), Martin (Clifton Collins, Jr.), and Joel Edmund (Cory Hardrict).


Buy a ticket? Yes? No? Maybe?

Yes. The film takes its audience on an intriguing journey. 


Video Critique Available Here:



Ben Meyers

HANSEL & GRETEL: WITCH HUNTERS (Theatrical Release USA 2013)

Ben Meyers’ rating: 2.4|5.0 Stars ìì

Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters—
spare a sequel, PLEASE—unless we get serious script rewriting that addresses timing issues and cinema-graphic work that tackles issues in blood and gore scenes so unreal that they are not real. The film provides rationale for why a dad would take two children and leave them in the forest to fend for themselves…makes an apparently cruel, original, childhood story into something kind, compassionate, well-thought out, and…well…good. We’ll see if the sequel, which we know is coming because the original made money in box office, is better than its prequel. The film, overall, will be enjoyed by children. It provides an opportunity for discussion between parents and children about assumptions, the many faces of good and evil, poor childhood experiences, and the importance of examining rhetoric in dialogue. We’ll see how Director Tommy Wirkola performs on his sequel.

Storyline

 The story revolves around a grown Hansel (Jeremy Renner) and Gretel (Gemma Arterton) who, after surviving a hair-raising childhood, now take on one witch at a time (sometimes two or more) to make the world a safer place for villagers.

Film Poster Courtesy of Wikipedia

Additional Thanks

Thank you to Executive Producers Chris Henchy, Denis L. Stewart, Terje Strømstad, and Tripp Vinson for making the film possible. Additional characters/cast include: Father (Thomas Scharff), Small Hansel (Cedric Eich), Small Gretel (Alea-Sophia Boudodimos), Muriel (Famke Janssen), Mina (Pihla Viitala), Edward (Derek Mears), Edward (voice of Robyn Atkin Downes), Adrianna (Kathrin Kühnel), Horned Witch (Ingrid Bolsø Berdal), and Red Haired Witch (Joanna Kulig).


Buy a ticket? Yes? No? Maybe?

Maybe. Even though the film earned an exceptionally low rating on Ben Meyers International due to graphics, timing, and writing, it does provide the next evolution in the Hansel and Gretel story.

Video Critique Available Here:




Ben Meyers